The province’s Municipal Act directs cities to rebate property taxes by 30 to 35 percent for the portion of the building that is vacant.
That’s why, in 2014 and 2015, the City of Hamilton gave $7 000 000 in tax rebates to owners whose buildings are partially or entirely vacant.
Those who oppose the rebates say giving property owners a break on taxes encourages them to do nothing rather than pursue new tenants.
The city fielded 536 requests for rebates in 2015, which totaled 3.6 million dollars – a loss to the city of 2.4 million and a loss to education budgets of 1.2 million.
Ward 4 Councilor Sam Merulla says it’s a significant financially and it can hinder redevelopment.
But, the city’s director of taxation, Larry Friday says the idea that landlords would rather keep their buildings vacant than rented doesn’t make sense.
He adds he doesn’t see the benefits of staying vacant.
On the other hand Ward 4 Councilor Sam Merulla says for someone buying a piece of cheap property to sit on it and hope for appreciation, the business model is completely different.
The city has held the position for several years the program should be phased out or capped.